President of Palace Museum: Starbucks no threat to Chinese culture

14:14, October 15, 2010      

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During a recent forum held by People's Daily Online, Zheng Xinmiao, president of China's Palace Museum, said a cup of coffee cannot overthrow Chinese civilization, once again reviving the controversy surrounding the Palace Museum Starbucks, which was removed by popular demand in 2007.

"The Palace Museum did not respond to the event at first. However, if we look back on the event, we will find that this is a problem related to the mental attitude and national self-confidence of a great country. This is also a problem related to the tolerance of the Chinese civilization. I believe a small cup of coffee cannot overthrow traditional Chinese culture that has such a long history," Zheng said.

"As the Palace Museum is the representative symbol of Chinese civilization, the Starbucks shop in the Palace Museum aroused widespread controversy a few years ago. What's your opinion towards the event?" a reporter from People’s Daily Online asked during the forum.

"When the incident aroused widespread controversy a few years ago, the former president of the Palace Museum called me and clearly told me that this is narrow-minded nationalism. Therefore, the Palace Museum did not officially respond to the event. Afterwards, an official from Starbucks in Beijing sent a letter to me," Zheng said. "He said that Starbucks had planned to withdraw the Starbucks shop in the Palace Museum because it seemed like he had become a villain who intended to destroy part of China's cultural heritage. He also said that he is only a simple businessman, and they wanted to find a proper opportunity to withdraw from the Palace Museum."

This is a problem related to the mental attitude of a great country, and the tolerance of the Chinese civilization, Zheng said. The Chinese people have reviewed the event and have a more comprehensive, more rational and dispassionate view toward it, he said.

"Our country is undergoing development and national revival. However, we still need to act with propriety on dealing with specific issues," Zheng said.

Zheng asked officials from the Palace Museum Foreign Affairs Office in the Chinese embassy in France to investigate the operation of the Louvre and found that the operation of the Louvre also adopted various forms of shops including a Chinese teahouse.

"This is actually a matter of national confidence. I do not think that a small cup of coffee can overthrow China when she possesses such a long history of traditional culture," Zheng said. "Since the event has passed, I think people are able to treat the event more rationally when we look back on it."

By People's Daily Online


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